Who We Are
The South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network, formed in 1998, is a statewide alliance* of health, medical, education, parent, youth, law enforcement and other civic organizations advocating for laws, policies and funding of effective programs that will result in significant reductions in tobacco use and addiction, especially among children and high-risk groups.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Network has grown from 18 members in its initial year to 53 statewide organizations that support public policy changes to address tobacco use in South Dakota.
*View our Alliances (member organizations)
What Are We Doing
Over the past 10 years, the Network has been a key part of policy changes to increase the funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts, increase the number of smokefree places in South Dakota and increase the price of tobacco products. A lot has happened since 1998.
During the 2000 legislative session, the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network encouraged the Governor and the Legislature to do what many other states had done - invest in a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program for South Dakota using a portion of the annual tobacco settlement payments being made by tobacco companies to the State of South Dakota. Lawmakers responded by putting an additional $1.7 million toward tobacco education and prevention efforts, as well as by creating the framework for future tobacco education and prevention efforts. This message was reiterated in 2001 and led to additional funding and the creation of a comprehensive statewide program.
Another major step was taken in 2002 when the South Dakota Legislature passed the state's first comprehensive clean indoor air law, which made most indoor worksites and public places smoke-free.
The law, which went into effect July 1, 2002, prohibits smoking in enclosed, indoor public places and worksites. The requirement affects both public and private employers. Separate smoking rooms or designated areas are no longer permitted indoors.
Establishments that have an alcoholic beverage, video lottery or gaming license; hotel sleeping rooms; and private residences, except when used for daycare, are exempt from the law.
In 2003, data collected by the South Dakota Department of Revenue showed that the new law did not harm revenue at eating places in South Dakota, a claim often made by those opposed to the law prior to its passage.
South Dakota lawmakers increased the state's excise tax on cigarettes 20 cents per pack during the 2003 Legislative Session, but failed to increase the tax on smokeless tobacco, increasing South Dakota's excise tax on cigarettes to 53 cents per pack.
Supported efforts throughout the 2004-2006 Legislative Sessions to increase the number of smoke free places by removing exemptions for bars, restaurants and casinos from the clean indoor air law as well as supported efforts to substantially increase the price of all tobacco products to reduce tobacco use.
The Network spearheaded the ballot initiative effort to increase the price of cigarettes by $1 per pack and the price of other tobacco products to 35% of the wholesale price and dedicate $5 million in new revenue to the tobacco prevention and cessation program. Over 25,000 signatures were collected to place the measure on the ballot. On November 7, 2006 the citizens of South Dakota showed overwhelming support by passing Initiative 2 with 61% of the vote statewide.
Why Are We Doing It
It is well known that tobacco products are highly addictive, especially for children. Tobacco use by children under the age of 18 has reached epidemic proportions in South Dakota and throughout the United States.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, accounting for 1 of every 6 deaths in South Dakota, more than alcohol, AIDS, auto accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. An estimated 18,000 South Dakota youth alive today will die from smoking related causes. State and national statistics reveal that:
• Each year in South Dakota, smoking accounts for almost 1100 deaths and cost the state more than $274 million in taxpayer dollars.
• 24.7% of South Dakota teenagers smoke. Each day 1,100 new children will get addicted to smoking. One-third of them will die prematurely from a tobacco-related disease resulting from their addiction.
• Cigarettes alone kill more than 1,100 South Dakotans a year.
What Has Been Accomplished So Far
Smoking by South Dakota youth has declined from 44 percent in 1999 down to 24.7 percent today, while adult smoking has declined to 19.8 percent. The decline in smoking rates follows an increase in the state cigarette tax and the passage of the state's smoke-free worksite law. These legislative victories were intended to help reduce smoking rates - it appears they have succeeded.
As noted above, a large majority of South Dakotans work and do business in a smoke-free environment thanks to legislation passed in 2003.
The Network was also instrumental in the creation and funding of the Department of Health's Tobacco Control and Prevention Program. The TCP works with communities to help keep youth from beginning to use tobacco and helps tobacco users to quit.
In addition, public awareness of the toll tobacco takes on South Dakota as well as the burden tobacco places on South Dakota taxpayers has never been higher.
While a lot has been accomplished over the past nine years, there is still much to do.
South Dakota's children deserve better. South Dakota is in need of a comprehensive, statewide approach to prevent and reduce tobacco use among children. Our plan should stimulate collaboration among a broad spectrum of organizations and individuals to develop the most effective strategies to tackle the problem.
In order to accomplish our goal of preventing and reducing youth tobacco use, the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network will use the collective resources and influence of its members to advocate for legislation aimed at:
• Preventing children from beginning a lifetime of addiction to tobacco products
• Assisting those already addicted to tobacco to quit using it
• Protecting non-smokers from the hazardous effects of secondhand smoke
• Reducing the burden of tobacco-related healthcare costs on South Dakota taxpayers.
For more information on what you can do: Click here